Ask the Experts

Q: My Son’s Executive Dysfunctions Are Hiding His Intelligence

At home, students may successfully use speech-to-text tools and parental support to get through homework. But at school, without accommodations to level the playing field, they fail exams and forget to hand in work. This is beyond discouraging, but there is hope.

Q: “My son demonstrates symptoms of executive dysfunction including disorganization, poor time management, poor working memory, and difficulty with attention management. He is aware of his ADHD diagnosis, and feels discouraged when he fails despite trying harder than everyone else. For example, after working the entire weekend on assignments, he forgets to turn them in. He does not complete class notes, therefore studying for a test is impossible. Planning and initiating written activities is really hard for him. We have tried teaching him techniques for reading and writing, but he blanks out. We have been using speech-to-text tools and that has worked out tremendously for homework but that is not allowed for testing and classwork. He gets Fs and Cs on the tests and classwork. This is very disheartening given that he regularly goes to bed way past midnight to complete his work. We have some control at home, but not at school. Not sure what accommodation in school or techniques for him to follow will work.” — ADDesperate

Hi ADDesperate:

I feel your pain. As parents, we all want to do right by our children so we can set them up for success.

Before we dive in, I need to ask: Have you met directly with any of your son’s teachers to discuss these concerns? His guidance counselor? The head of special education? Does your son have a 504 or IEP in place? There is so much going on with your son that I feel you need to start at the beginning to make sure he has the right supports and accommodations in place.

I am linking to ADDitude’s Complete IEP/504 Guide: A Step-By-Step Road Map to the School Accommodations That Your Child Needs to Succeed. It is terrific. It is comprehensive. And it covers everything.

I would also recommend attending your school’s SEPTA (Special Education PTA) meetings. You will find wonderful knowledge among the parents as well as parent advocates who can assist you with the process.

Good luck!

[How to Make School Meetings Count: Your Free Guide]

Organization guru Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, answers questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.

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